The Internet in Europe
OpenNet Initiative


Introduction
In less than a decade, the Internet in Europe has evolved from a virtually unfettered environment to one in which filtering in most countries, particularly within the European Union (EU), is the norm rather than the exception. Compared with many of the countries in other regions that block Internet content, the rise of filtering in Europe is notable because of its departure from a strong tradition of democratic processes and a commitment to free expression. Filtering takes place in a variety of forms, including the state-ordered takedown of illegal content on domestically hosted Web sites; the blocking of illegal content hosted abroad; and the filtering of results by search engines pertaining to illegal content. As in most countries around the world that engage in filtering, the distinction between voluntary and state-mandated filtering is somewhat blurred in Europe. In many instances filtering by Internet service providers (ISPs), search engines, and content providers in Europe is termed ‚Äúvoluntary,‚Ä